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What is Customer Success?

Updated: Jun 4, 2020

So what is customer success?

It is a no-brainer, right?

  • Customers are successful in a company’s product.

The above statement is just a part of it. The meaning of customer success depends on which side of the relationship you are on. From the other side of the relationship between customer and service provider, one could say that:

  • A vendor is successful with its customers.

Both the customer’s success and the service provider’s success should be considered when defining and setting up a customer success program.

The first definition, based on customers being successful with the product, could mean measurement KPIs for customer success. Customer satisfaction, for example, with a focus on tactics such as more free resources, more free trainings or cheaper pricing.

The second definition, based on the vendor being successful with its customers, could lead to more hard-nosed sales KPIs such as revenue and average revenue per customer, and lead to actions such as more product-focused communication to customers and potentially more (read ‘annoying’) calls to customers at the end of the month/billing/sales cycle to ask how the customer is doing (read ‘push sales’).

I would argue that taken to their extreme, each definition is sub-optimal for both the customer and the service provider. Too much only for the good of the customer means the vendor does not have a viable business model and cannot survive; thus, in the end, leaving the customers without a valuable service.

Focusing too much on the success of the vendor with its customers can leave service levels lagging and make the chances higher that customers are unsatisfied and eventually cancel the service.

Thus, I would propose that customer success is the wonderful harmonious mix and interconnectedness of the two. As Frank Sinatra sang in ‘Love and Marriage’: ‘You can’t have one without the other.’

From that point, as a core for customer success, I find the following definition from the Customer Success Association to be quite useful. It connects the focus, the vision of where things should go, and helps me prioritize and qualify my daily tasks and projects when it comes to what and why we are doing customer success in our company.

“To build more proven value faster for both the customers and your company.”

This article was first published by WebTrekk. Permission to use has been granted by the publisher.

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